I finished my 100 day project last night (if you haven't read about this concept, head over to The Great Discontent to learn more). My project? 100 Days of Getting Started, inspired by Mark Twain's quote, "The secret of getting ahead is getting started."
Top 5 Mind-Blowing Secrets of Successful Entrepreneurs:
1. They don't read clickbait articles all day.
2. They do the work.
We live in a world of information overload. We’re constantly forced to curate our lives, because we know that if we don’t, someone else will. We have more opportunities than ever, and we’re better than ever at sifting through said click bait links and YouTube videos. Those of us who have found our home in creative industries are also learning how to hone our skills, manage our time and coddle the vision that got us here in the first place.
But that’s the double edge sword. We like to dream.
It’s easier to dream than work.
I feel a sense of FOMO rush over me every time somebody posts a book/blog post/podcast that was “life changing.” I want to drop what I’m doing so I can acquire this fruit from the tree of knowledge instead of doing the work that will instill valuable lessons of my own.
Before I started working for myself several years ago, my dad told me, “Your biggest struggle will be staying focused. Every business owner has to learn focus.” I didn’t know what he meant because I always thought my vision was clear: I wanted to work for myself doing graphic design and illustration. I wanted to be my own boss. What else was there to figure out?
After a couple of years I realize exactly how right he was. Productive procrastination runs rampant in any workplace. Crossing tasks off the to-do list welcomes a lukewarm adrenaline rush that can only be satisfied by crossing off more lukewarm tasks.
As I reflect on the last three months of art I’ve been creating for 100 Days of Getting Started, I’m oddly surprised by how much I learned by experience (those specific lessons learned will be on Adobe Inspire later this week).
Perhaps the biggest lesson of all was the reinforced advice my dad gave me that December: learn to prioritize focus.
The beauty of 100 day projects is that they don’t allow room for petty excuses or lack of direction.
At the end of the day, the only question that matters is: “Did I do the work today?” If the answer is yes, then you are inching closer to victory. If it’s no, then you have failed. However, knowing that each day is a fresh start is the most redemptive part of the project (side note: this is also how I survived golf in high school—new hole, fresh start). Doing this over and over makes you feel like Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow for pretty much three months straight, and that’s cool because he saves the world from aliens...but I digress.
100 day projects don't have to be complex, but they should be challenging. They're meant to be practice, after all. With healthy practice, process and growth are celebrated, not perfect performance.
Projects like this teach us to hunker down and do the work. Unexpected consequences arise (a.k.a. lessons learned), but only those who do the work will be able to internalize these game changing lessons. It’s the ultimate, “You had to be there” for personal growth. The good, the bad and the ugly are all agents of change. They’re the warriors to bring us to the finish line.
What else is nice about working on something for 100 days?
You have 100 more of anything you want. In my case, it's a slew of new illustrations.
Remember: baby steps.
What's your project?